Graduate Practicum


Each spring, Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) master’s degree students are required to complete a practical work experience at an advocacy, policy or community organization.

During the semester-long practicum, students gain invaluable real-world skills in policy and community work on issues relating to their course of study. Students also meet for weekly seminars and complete readings and written work that integrates theory and practice. Junior and senior WGSS majors may also enroll in the practicum, pending approval from the WGSS Program.

A student gesturing and speaking




For Students

The WGSS Program has access to information on internship opportunities at a wide range of organizations, but students are ultimately responsible for arranging their own internships.


  • Meet with the WGSS practicum advisor to find and review possible placements
  • Register for practicum course
  • Contact organizations, arrange interviews and negotiate arrangements and contract with employer
  • Student, employer and placement supervisor in the WGSS Program sign contract (must be signed prior to January 1)


  • January–April: Complete practicum internship and research paper

Most students take the practicum in their second year, if not earlier. Students choose between a six-credit practicum that includes an independent case study and a three-credit practicum alongside an additional three credits of research. Both practicum options require attendance at the weekly seminar. The case study usually requires one or more rounds of revision plus comments from someone in the organization.

60-Hour Practicum Course (WGSS 6283) Plus Independent Research

(3 credits for practicum and 3 for research; undergraduates may take this course as WGSS 4183)

This curriculum includes a 60-hour practicum placement. Students must also take three credits of independent research, though not necessarily in the same semester. MA students who choose the three-credit practicum option usually complete the degree with independent research, which may be unrelated to the focus area of the practicum placement. MA students who choose the thesis option can use the three-credit research practicum as an elective or concentration course. Requirements:

  • Spend one full semester (or more) doing independent original research — collecting original data or otherwise using primary sources and making an original scholarly contribution, rather than simply reviewing what others have already written
  • Produce an article-length (25–35 pages) professional paper. Final product should be suitable for presentation at a professional conference and of publishable quality.
  • Complete one or more rounds of directed revision. Specific requirements will be worked out with the faculty sponsor.

120-Hour Practicum Course (WGSS 6283) + Case Study

(6 credits; graduate students only)

This curriculum entails a 120-hour practicum placement plus a 30-page research paper that analyzes some aspect of the placement experience at the organization, in addition to the required work for the seminar course.

  • Students may choose an elective independent study, which is typically a directed readings course designed to help students gain command of the literature in a specific field of inquiry not readily available through offered courses. Students and faculty sponsors may agree on a variety of written outcomes or final projects.
  • All students choosing this option must submit a brief description of their proposed topic and obtain written permission from a faculty sponsor who agrees to supervise the research prior to registering. Forms are available in the Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program office.
  • Case studies should be of publishable quality.

To find local internship openings, sign up for the WGSS newsletter and digest and consult the GW Career Services website. Also consider signing up for relevant organizations’ newsletters such as Women’s Information Network (WIN), the National Council of Women’s Organizations and the Global Women’s Institute.


Sample Program of Study With Practicum

If a student pursued the MA in Public Policy-WGSS and chose the practicum option, the program of study would include a practicum course as well as a mixture of electives in WGSS and Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration courses:


For Employers

The nationally recognized practicum of the WGSS Program places students with advocacy, policy and community organizations based in Washington, D.C. We invite organizations that can provide students with a substantive, professional-level assignment to participate in the practicum.


  • Placement lasts for a negotiable period during the spring semester (January–April), with each student completing a minimum of 60 hours.
  • Employers are encouraged but not required to offer stipends.
  • Students will contact organizations and arrange interviews in December for an internship beginning in January.
  • The student and the employer will negotiate arrangements and sign a contract.

Request an Intern

Please provide some background information on your organization or company by filling out the intern request form and a member of the WGSS Program will follow up shortly.